The Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation (GBEDF) is mission minded and we live out our mission in many ways. Our mission includes keeping the local tax base healthy and growing by adding new business to the marketplace. To achieve our mission, the GBEDF wears many hats and adheres to several best practices supported by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).
- Marketing: All economic development organizations are charged with marketing their respective communities in some capacity. To do this effectively you have to know your community and its assets well. Marketing a community can be as simple as creatively presenting the answers for common site selector questions: How do we measure up with workforce capabilities and human capital?; What do our population numbers and demographics say about our community?; Do our education offerings support our current and future job market?; Can our transportation and infrastructure systems handle a company’s logistical needs? If the answers don’t align with what a company is looking for, then the right fit isn’t a local fit. For example, the highly publicized Amazon Headquarters (HQ2) search, which has been touted as the proposal of the decade, caused a lot of conversation locally. Our region’s inability to meet this company’s selection criteria stirred conversation within the community and brings us back full circle to the hard, defining questions. And that’s okay because in turn we learn and find ourselves digging deeper to become a better community.
- Finding the right fit: One of the ways we measure success is by adding jobs to the market. However, not all jobs are created equal. Sometimes the selection process is in reverse; and it’s not so much the outside company looking in, rather the economic development organization serving in the role of looking outward to ensure the company requesting information about the community is a good fit. The GBEDF looks at certain criteria such as the number of jobs created, and the quality of wages offered when considering proposals. When working with companies we not only strive to meet industry needs, but we look at future impact the business will have.
- Being a liaison: The GBEDF spends a great amount of time connecting the dots for outside companies who are seeking to move into the community. When these companies are headquartered outside of the area it is the economic development organization’s job as a gatekeeper to facilitate the establishment of various partnerships to assist the company’s needs and increase their ROI.
- Investing in your community: Strong communities invest in themselves. A part of our economic development strategy is to reinvest revenue back into the community through various forms of community support. The GBEDF focuses on funding initiatives that directly impact the economic advancement of the area. Over the last ten years the GBEDF has invested over $2M in the local marketplace. Tourism, education and workforce, infrastructure development, and quality of life are just a few of the areas we support.
Communities do not get built overnight. Lessons learned through the years have caused us to ask the hard questions but that has helped our community to look within and reinvest in ways that will help to continue the growth of the marketplace and to serve the needs of industry.
Rocky Rockett, is Executive Director of the Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation (GBEDF)